Noveltea in Sri Lanka: 2) We head North through the tea plantations…

May 1, 2011

5am start to see sunrise over Sri Lankan tea plantations

Unreliable internet access has meant we’ve been unable to blog as regularly as we would have liked. Now we’re in back Colombo to watch the Royal Wedding so here’s a little update…

Last week we arrived in Ella, in the foothills, famous for it’s lush green jungles and orderly tea plantations. On the South Coast it had been scorching hot, well into the 30s and as soon as we got up to pour a drink we’d break into a cloying sweat. It was naive to think, however, that in a country as verdant as this, the weather would hold. Of course, we were wrong.

In Ella the monsoon rains came. It rained and it rained and it rained. Then there would be a small sunny window, where folks would start to put out their washing… and then it would rain again. With the rain, the mosquitoes disappeared, but in their stead came the leeches. We suffered terribly as we trekked through long grass and scrabbled over the wet rocks, and when we came home we had to burn the little blighters off one by one.

One morning, we got up early and climbed a rock the locals call “Little Adam’s Peak” – an hour’s climb from the town – from where we were rewarded with fantastic views of the sun rising over the plantations, and the famous ‘Ella Gap’.

From Ella, we headed further North, to Nuwara Eliya, the highest settlement on the island, where the early colonialists flattered the hilltop forests and planted row upon row of immaculate tea bushes in their stead. The road winds up and up through the hills, and on either side, the ramshackle tea factories vie for pride of place. We stopped for a few tastings along the way and finally reached the Grand Hotel where we were treated with our first afternoon tea in an incredible 3 weeks!

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